Home News Washington Post publisher and incoming editor allegedly used stolen records in UK

Washington Post publisher and incoming editor allegedly used stolen records in UK


The publisher and incoming editor of The Washington Post used fraudulently obtained phone and company records in newspaper articles while he was a London correspondent, according to a former colleague, a public report by a private investigator and an analysis of newspaper archives.

In 2004, Will Lewis, publisher of The Washington Post, appointed him business editor of The Sunday Times, where he wrote one of the articles. The other was written by Robert Winnett, and Mr. Lewis Recently announced Serves as the next executive editor of The Washington Post.

Deception, hacking and fraud are at the heart of Britain’s long-running newspaper scandal, which led to the closure of a major tabloid in 2010 and unleashed years of litigation by celebrities who accused journalists of improperly gaining access to their personal files and voicemail messages.

Mr Lewis insisted that his only purpose in getting involved in the controversy was to help root out problematic behaviour afterwards. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

But a former Sunday Times reporter said on Friday that Lewis personally assigned him to write an article in 2004 using hacked phone records.

After the story broke, a British businessman in the article publicly said his records had been stolen. The reporter, Peter Koenig, called Lewis a brilliant editor and one of the best he had ever worked with. But over time, he said Lewis had changed.

“His ambition outweighed his morals,” Mr. Koenig said.

A second article, published in 2002, was signed by Mr Winnett, and a private investigator for The Sunday Times later publicly admitted to using deception to obtain the material.

Both articles were published in newspapers Admitted paying a private investigator “It would be a violation of the ethics code of The Washington Post and most US news organisations. The Sunday Times has repeatedly said it has never paid anyone to conduct illegal behaviour.

The Times review of Lewis’ career also raised new questions about his payment of more than £100,000 to a source for information while he was editor of Britain’s Daily Telegraph in 2009. Most US newsrooms prohibit paying for information.

In a November meeting with a Washington Post reporter, Lewis defended the payments, saying the money was placed in an escrow account to protect the sources. But the consultant who brokered the deal said in a recent interview that there was no escrow account and that he sent the money to the sources himself.

A spokesman for The Washington Post said Lewis declined to answer a list of questions. The newspaper has previously said, “William is very clear about what lines should not be crossed, and his track record shows that.” In a series of discussions with Washington Post reporters this week, Lewis said his job as publisher is to create an environment where good journalism can flourish and he would never interfere.

Mr. Winnett did not answer calls or respond to questions sent via WhatsApp or email. The Washington Post referred questions to his spokesman, who did not respond.

Lewis praised Winnett in a meeting with Washington Post reporters this month. “He’s an outstanding investigative reporter,” Lewis said. “He will restore a higher level of investigative rigor to our organization.”

Mr. Lewis and Mr. Winnett will jointly lead one of the nation’s most important news organizations, which has a long history of providing independent checks and balances on government and holding those in power accountable. Newsroom turmoil on election eveReporters inside and outside The Washington Post are asking whether the new leaders share the same moral foundation as they do.

Mr. Lewis served as publisher of The Wall Street Journal from 2014 to 2020. During his tenure, the newspaper maintained its reputation for high journalistic standards and won Pulitzer Prizes, including for exposing Hush Money Introduced by Donald J. Trump before the 2016 election.

However, the turmoil at The Washington Post has put Lewis’s early career, especially his time at The Sunday Times, under new scrutiny.

it has been Well-documented The reporter from the famous newspaper Depend on exist Obtained by fraud Material for articles up to the early 21st century.

But the scandal since then has focused largely on tabloid journalists, so Mr. Lewis and Mr. Winnett have remained on the fringes of controversy.

In 2002, Mr. Winnett got the scoop.

Mercedes has reintroduced the Maybach, a German luxury car so popular in the 1930s that the Sunday Times called it “the Nazis’ favourite limousine”. Prominent British people are lining up to place orders. Mr Winnett has a list that includes a member of the House of Lords, a major political donor and an insurance industry leader.

The article did not reveal how Winnett obtained the names, saying only that “it is understood that the individuals had placed the orders.”

Many years later, a private investigator named John Ford Public disclosure of his long career at The Sunday TimesHe claimed he had rummaged through people’s rubbish and secretly obtained the bank, phone and company records of British politicians and other public figures.

exist Interviewed by The Guardian in 2018Mr. Ford lamented his work in a June 2002 article exposing Maybach buyers. Mr. Winnett’s article is the only one that fits that description. But since the original article is not easily found online, there is no public link to him.

The New York Times reviewed the June 9, 2002 article from the subscription news database Factiva.

In an interview with The Guardian, Mr. Ford said he had called a Mercedes dealer, pretending to be a German key fob manufacturer who needed to see a list of buyers so he could confirm the spelling of their names. He said the person on the other end of the line was fired after the article was published.

Mr. Ford has stopped speaking to the press and has declined to comment.

Mr. Lewis became 2002 Business EditorA few months after the Maybach article appeared, he became Mr. Winnett’s boss.

In 2004, Lewis pulled another business reporter aside after a regular Tuesday editorial meeting and gave him an assignment, according to Koenig, the reporter.

Koenig recalled in an interview with The New York Times that Lewis had asked him to investigate a conversation between two businessmen who might be involved in the sale of a retail chain. Koenig said he was provided with copies of the phone records — which he believes were provided by Lewis himself.

“My understanding at the time was that they had been hacked,” Koenig said.

With the records in hand, Koenig said he persuaded one of the businessmen, Stuart Rose, then chief executive of retailer Marks & Spencer and now a member of the House of Lords, to be interviewed to explain the calls.

this Article by Mr. Koenig, June 2004 The article contained details of Mr Ross’s phone conversations. It did not say where the information came from.

Koenig said he was almost certain that Lewis had edited the article himself. He said it was highly unusual for other senior editors to review business articles.

Mr. Lewis himself Write in the first person That same day, Lewis published an article about Mr Ross and his role in the possible Marks & Spencer deal. In it, Mr Lewis described getting a lead on the deal himself and mentioned the phone calls. “I heard Ross called his PR adviser starting on Friday 7 May,” Mr Lewis wrote.

And in Mr. Lewis also wrote another article And in an article published that day, he recorded the exact time of another phone call.

A few days later, Marks & Spencer Announced that Mr Ross’s phone records had been hacked.

The criminals who obtained the M&S phone records have never been publicly identified. At the time it was reported that someone contacted the phone company, posing as Mr Ross, and asked for his records.

This deception, known in Britain as “blowing the nut,” became the centerpiece of a scandal that engulfed Murdoch’s British media empire a few years later and exposed the ways in which Murdoch and other Fleet Street tabloid journalists invaded the privacy of their subjects.

The word “hacking” is often used to refer to a variety of techniques, including “hacking”, which has been called the “black art” of British journalism. These techniques are usually illegal, but British law provides an exception for hacking if the information is obtained in the public interest.

In 2010, The Guardian and then The New York Times exposed the News of the World’s practices, a controversy that forced Murdoch to close the newspaper.

Lawsuits followed, but they were almost exclusively aimed at the actions of the tabloids. Major newspapers such as the Sunday Times largely stayed out of the matter. It was not until years later that the details became public.

“All senior editors and most journalists at The Sunday Times knew that I illegally obtained phone bill data and bank account transaction information on an almost weekly basis for reporting the news,” Ford said in a statement. Interview 2018 In partnership with the British news website Byline Investigates.

In the interview, Mr. Ford said he was paid as much as 40,000 pounds a year, about $72,000 at the time. John Witherow, then the editor of the paper and Mr. Lewis’ boss, admitted that the paper had hired Mr. Ford as a liar for various investigations.

“He was hired because he was good at imitating people. Wasn’t he?” Mr. Witherow was asked In a 2012 government investigation.

“That’s what it sounds like,” the editor replied.

exist Later articlesFord himself wrote that he once considered Winnett a close friend. Ford said in the article that The Sunday Times paid for his legal fees after he was arrested on fraud-related fraud charges in 2010. Winnett was “intimately involved in the arrangements for my legal defence,” Ford wrote.

Mr. Ford eventually won Formal warningbut was not convicted in the case.

Lewis has rarely spoken about the phone-hacking scandal over the years. When he has, he has presented himself as someone who is cooperating with authorities and helping News Corp. root out wrongdoing.

“My job was to right the wrongs, and I did that.” He told the BBC In 2020.

The wiretapping scandal recently resurfaced in Mr. Lewis’s life as he began to reorganize The Washington Post’s newsroom. Executive editor Sally Buzbee resigned over the planA few days later, The New York Times Revealed that Mr. Lewis scolded her Lewis, who was charged over his reporting on the development of a phone hacking prosecution in the UK, denied putting pressure on Ms Buzby.

Then, NPR reporter revealed Mr Lewis was willing to give an exclusive interview on the condition that the interviewer promised not to report on the phone hacking case.

Mr. Lewis also faced questions about whether he and Mr. Winnett disclosed another scoop in an unethical manner. Most U.S. newsrooms.

In 2009, when Lewis was editor of the Daily Telegraph, Winnett sparked a major political scandal by revealing that politicians were using government expense accounts to spend lavishly.

This article is based on records valued at more than $120,000 that The Daily Telegraph purchased from a security consultant.

In a November meeting with Washington Post reporters, Lewis defended his reporting. He told staff that the Daily Telegraph paid to protect its sources. “I agreed to put the money in an escrow account for legal protection,” Lewis said. According to The Washington Post.

In an interview with The New York Times last week, the security adviser described a less formal arrangement.

“It’s not an escrow account,” said John Wick, the adviser, who said he personally collected the money on behalf of the source. “I hold the money and release it when and how I think it’s needed.”

Mr Wick said he had struck a deal with Mr Winnett: pay £10,000 for the chance to review the information, then £100,000 for exclusive use.

Mr. Wick said he did not tell Mr. Winnett or Mr. Lewis what he did with the money.

Kitty Bennett and Julie Tate Contributed to research.

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